Marriage Equality

Michele Bachmann Tries To Walk Back 'Boring' Gay Marriage Remarks

Following her Values Voter Summit speech about engaging in “spiritual warfare” with Islam, Rep. Michele Bachmann spoke to journalists, including Michelangelo Signorile, who asked her about gay marriage.

Bachmann, a leading anti-gay Republican, said that “it’s not an issue,” telling Signorile, “In fact, it’s boring.”

The Minnesota congresswoman now appears to be walking back her remarks, suggesting in an interview with WorldNetDaily that she is the victim of a media attack:

In a follow-up interview with WND, however, Bachmann clarified her comments.

“What I said is that this won’t be the issue that drives the 2014 election,” Bachmann said. “I told the reporter it’s getting boring having them only press this issue with Republicans while ignoring Democrats.

“The media loves to divide us on this issue. They look for something all the time,” Bachmann told WND. “I said nothing different. I’m the woman who carried the traditional marriage amendment in Minnesota, and I stand firm in my belief that marriage should be between one man and one woman.”

Bachmann’s aide told WND she wasn’t brushing off the radio host, she was merely making a quick, parting comment as she was leaving.

PFAW Foundation’s Supreme Court 2014-2015 Term Preview

To: Interested Parties
From: Paul Gordon, Senior Legislative Counsel, People For the American Way
Date: September 25, 2014
Subject: PFAW Foundation’s Supreme Court 2014-2015 Term Preview


The beginning of a new Supreme Court term has become a time to worry, “What’s next?” In the past two terms alone, often in 5-4 decisions, the Roberts Court has severely undermined the Voting Rights Act, continued its assault on the American people’s efforts to limit money in politics, strengthened the hand of employers who discriminate, significantly eroded church-state separation, discovered religious rights for for-profit corporations seeking to deny female employees needed contraception coverage, undercut unions, and found ways to help large corporations bypass laws designed to limit their power over small businesses and ordinary people.

As bad as the Roberts Court has been, there have also been some good decisions in the most recent terms. For instance, the Court struck down the odious Defense of Marriage Act, upheld the EPA's general authority to issue regulations on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, and unanimously recognized our Fourth Amendment right to privacy concerning our smart phones.

The 2014-2015 Term is set to begin on October 6, the traditional First Monday in October, and the Court will be hearing a number of important cases. At the same time, perhaps half the cases it will hear this term have not been determined or announced, and there is substantial speculation on whether it will hear cases on several high-profile issues, marriage equality most prominent among them. Below is a summary of some of the major cases the Court may hear this term, along with cases already scheduled that we will be following.


CASES THAT THE COURT MIGHT HEAR

MARRIAGE EQUALITY

If the Court accepts a marriage equality case, it will obviously become the blockbuster case of the term (and perhaps the decade). The Court has already been asked to hear appeals of pro-equality rulings by three circuit courts: From the Tenth Circuit are Herbert v. Kitchen (Utah) and Smith v. Bishop (Oklahoma). From the Fourth Circuit are Rainey v. Bostic, Schaefer v. Bostic, and McQuigg v. Bostic (all Virginia). From the Seventh Circuit are Bogan v. Baskin (Indiana) and Walker v. Wolf (Wisconsin). While states and government officials who lost in the lower courts are filing the appeals, the couples who won the cases are also urging the Court to hear the appeals, so there can finally be a national resolution to the issue.

Should one of the remaining circuit courts uphold a state marriage ban, the resulting split among circuits on such a major constitutional issue would almost guarantee review by the Supreme Court. But if every circuit continues to rule the same way, the Justices might decide to let the issue be resolved there.

Conservatives like Scalia and Thomas, who have in case after case shown their hostility to LGBT equality but may be unsure of how Kennedy would vote, might not be willing to risk a Supreme Court precedent that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. From their perspective, if they can’t change the outcome around the country, why make it worse by adding a jurisprudential nightmare from the nation’s highest court that would taint American law for decades to come?

For Justices likely to recognize the constitutional right to marriage equality, the calculation might be different. They, too, not knowing Kennedy’s position, might not want to risk a 5-4 ruling in the “wrong” direction on a major constitutional and societal issue. But even if they could be certain of being in the majority, they might find advantages to having the Court stay out. Justice Ginsburg, for instance, has suggested publicly that Roe v. Wade went “too far, too fast,” provoking a backlash that could otherwise have been avoided. If the legal question of marriage equality is being decided rightly in all the circuit courts, some Justices might rather leave well enough alone. In fact, Justice Ginsburg told a group of law students in mid-September that without a circuit split, she saw “no urgency” for the Court to take up the issue now, although she added that she expects the Court to take it up “sooner or later.”

Should the Court grant cert on one or more of the appeals, it could answer a number of critically important questions in addition to whether states can prohibit same-sex couples from marrying.

Exactly which constitutional right do the bans violate? While numerous courts have ruled in favor of same-sex couples, they have been anything but unanimous in their reasoning: Some have suggested that the bans violate the Due Process Clause, because the longstanding, fundamental right to marry includes the right to marry someone of the same sex. Other judges indicate that the bans violate the Equal Protection Clause because they deny the right to marry based on the sex of the people seeking to get married. Still others suggest that the bans violate the Equal Protection Clause because they discriminate against gays and lesbians. While the different legal rationales would all have the same immediate result (marriage equality), they could create very different legal precedents and have very different impacts down the line as lower courts consider other types of discrimination, whether aimed at gays and lesbians, at transgender people, or at others.

A Supreme Court ruling might decide what level of scrutiny the Equal Protection Clause requires for laws that discriminate against gay people, an issue not squarely faced in previous cases. Most government classifications are subject to – and easily pass – “rational basis” scrutiny by the courts: The law is constitutional as long as it’s rationally related to some legitimate government interest. (The Court has said that animus against gays and lesbians is not a legitimate purpose, which in the past has let it bypass the question as to whether anti-gay laws warrant more scrutiny from the courts.)

But a few types of laws trigger heightened Equal Protection scrutiny. Sex-based classifications are subject to intermediate scrutiny: They must be substantially related to an important government interest. Race-based classifications are generally subject to strict scrutiny, the highest level: They must be narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling government interest. If the Court rules that laws discriminating against lesbians and gays warrant some level of heightened scrutiny, that would have an enormous impact nationwide on all kinds of laws that discriminate against lesbians and gays, not just marriage bans.

The Court’s discussion of this issue could also shed light on whether eliminating private discrimination against LGBT people is (in the Court’s eyes) a compelling government interest. This could have an enormous impact as courts consider right wing challenges to anti-discrimination laws on the basis of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act or state-law analogs.


ACA SUBSIDIES

Opponents of the Affordable Care Act strategically launched lawsuits in four different circuits challenging federal subsidies for millions of Americans buying health insurance on federally-run exchanges. The circuits were apparently selected to maximize the possibility of a circuit split, which in turn would maximize the likelihood of getting the case heard by the Roberts Court, which (they hope) would deliver a crippling blow to Obamacare. Decisions have been reached in two of the circuits, although one has since been vacated.

Section 1311 of the ACA says states should set up insurance exchanges, while Section 1321 of the Act says the federal government can set one up if a state doesn't. Subsidies are available for less well-off people getting health insurance through an exchange, based on the amount the person pays for the insurance s/he is enrolled in through an exchange "established by the state under [section] 1311" of the ACA. The law’s opponents hope to have the Supreme Court rule that Congress intended for subsidies to be unavailable to Americans purchasing insurance through the federally-established exchanges that the law calls for in cases where the state does not step in. In other words, the argument is that Congress intended to undercut the financial viability of the law and thwart its central purpose.

A unanimous panel of the Fourth Circuit rejected this wild claim in King v. Burwell. However, two far right judges on the D.C. Circuit formed a majority in a three-judge panel ruling actually agreeing with the Obama care opponents in Halbig v. Burwell. Dissenting Judge Harry Edwards recognized the lawsuit as a “not-so-veiled attempt to gut the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” noting that “[i]t is inconceivable that Congress intended to give States the power to cause the ACA to crumble.” The full D.C. Circuit subsequently vacated the ruling and will consider the issue en banc, and most observers expect a ruling more like the Fourth Circuit’s.

But even if that happens, there are still lawsuits percolating in Indiana (Seventh Circuit) and Oklahoma (Tenth Circuit), so the hoped-for circuit split may yet occur. If it does, the Roberts Court is almost certain to consider the issue. While the case is transparently political and legally weak, that did not stop the conservative Justices when it came to the Commerce Clause challenge to the individual mandate.


CONTRACEPTION COVERAGE AND RELIGIOUS NONPROFITS

The Roberts Court may hear one or more cases involving religious nonprofits that oppose the ACA’s contraception coverage requirement, in a sequel to Hobby Lobby v. Burwell. In that case, the Roberts Court gave certain for-profit corporations religious liberty rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), then completely rewrote the law to give the chain store the right to “exercise” its religion by refusing to comply with the ACA’s contraception coverage requirement.

Under RFRA, a federal law cannot impose a substantial burden on a person’s religious exercise unless it is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest, and it is the least restrictive means of doing so. In Hobby Lobby, the Roberts Court concluded that the corporation and its owners suffered a “substantial” burden” on their religious exercise because the owners were offended by the contraception coverage requirement, even though it did not restrict or burden what they may believe or do. The majority also concluded that the law was not the least restrictive means of furthering the government’s interest in women’s health, because the Administration offers religious nonprofits an accommodation: They are exempt if they simply sign a form certifying that they are a religious nonprofit that objects to the provision of contraceptive services, and provide a copy of that form to their insurance issuer or third-party administrator, which then has the responsibility to pay for and provide the coverage. (Churches, in contrast, are wholly exempt.) The Roberts Court concluded that the federal government can make this accommodation available to for-profit corporations, meaning the coverage requirement is not the least restrictive means of achieving the ACA’s goal.

But three days later, the Court issued a temporary injunction against enforcing even this accommodation against Wheaton College, a non-profit religious institution that argued that the accommodation substantially burdens its religious freedom. This prompted a furious dissent from the three women Justices. Although the merits of the case are still being argued before a lower federal court, this was an ominous sign of how the Roberts Court will address the legal question when it inevitably reaches the high court.

Another high-profile case (or one similar to it) that may reach the Court involves Little Sisters of the Poor. This religious nonprofit organization, too, has a religious objection to the accommodation that was designed to meet its religious objections, arguing that the form is like a permission slip that would trigger contraception coverage, making the nuns complicit in sin. However, the Little Sisters’ insurer is classified as a “church plan,” which is actually exempt from the ACA requirement. So regardless of whether the Little Sisters signed the form, their employees would still not have the contraception coverage. Nevertheless, last January, while its RFRA suit against the contraception coverage provision was before the Tenth Circuit (where it is still pending), the Supreme Court enjoined the federal government from enforcing the law until a final resolution on the merits.

It seems likely that there will be a request that this issue be considered by the Supreme Court at some point this term, either through one of these cases or one similar to them.


CASES CURRENTLY BEFORE THE COURT


EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION AND WORKERS’ RIGHTS

Young v. UPS: Discrimination on the basis of pregnancy

The Supreme Court is to decide to what extent employers can treat pregnant workers temporarily unable to work differently from other workers temporarily unable to work.

This case involves Peggy Young, a pregnant employee of UPS with temporary medical restrictions on how much she could safely lift. UPS did not make any accommodations for her, such as temporary alternative work. As a result, she spent several months on unpaid leave, during which she lost her medical coverage.

In 1976, the Supreme Court ruled that discriminating against employees who are pregnant was not sex discrimination under Title VII. Congress corrected that interpretation of the law in 1978 with the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), which has two relevant provisions. First, it specifies that sex discrimination includes discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

The second provision explains how to apply that general principle: It says that women affected by pregnancy “shall be treated the same for all employment-related purposes … as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work.” This establishes a basis of comparison. So while a typical sex discrimination case looks at how a female plaintiff is treated in comparison to similarly situated men, a PDA case looks at how she is treated in comparison to non-pregnant workers with similar ability (or inability) to work.

UPS’s collective bargaining contract calls for UPS to accommodate temporarily disabled employees if the disability is due to an on-the-job injury, or if they have lost their DOT certification to drive. UPS also accommodates employees who have a permanent impairment under the Americans With Disabilities Act. UPS says its policy is “pregnancy-blind:” They claim they are treating Young the same way they’d treat a non-pregnant employee whose injury doesn’t fit any of the above conditions.

But Young argues that isn’t the proper analysis under the PDA. She points out that UPS would have made an accommodation for someone “similar in their ability or inability to work” to her if they were in one of those three categories. So, she concludes, the plain text of the PDA requires UPS to accommodate her, as well.

Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk: Overtime pay for workers at warehouse distribution centers

The Supreme Court is to decide if employers can deny overtime pay to employees at “customer fulfillment” distribution centers for the time they spend waiting for mandatory security screenings.

This is a class-action lawsuit brought by Jesse Busk and Laurie Castro, two former employees of Integrity Staffing Solutions, which provides workers to work in the warehouses of companies like Amazon.com. At the end of the shift, the company requires every employee to go through a security check before they leave the facility to make sure they aren’t stealing the merchandise. The employees wait as long as 25 minutes to be searched. Busk and Castro claim that they should have been paid overtime for this time under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), as should all current employees, as well.

FLSA requires overtime pay when a covered employee works more than 40 hours in a workweek. In 1947, Congress helped define what counts as “work” by passing the Portal-to-Portal Act (PPA), which says that FLSA’s overtime requirement doesn’t apply to activities that are “preliminary” or “postliminary” to an employee’s primary job responsibilities. In a 1956 case called Steiner v. Mitchell, the Supreme Court interpreted the PPA as requiring overtime only for tasks that are an “integral and indispensable part of the principal activities for which covered workman are employed.”

Busk and Castro say that any activity required by and benefitting the employer (such as the security searches) are part of the actual job, not “postliminary” to it, so they count as time at work under FLSA and should generate overtime pay. They get support from an amicus brief submitted by the National Employment Lawyers Association, which details how loss-prevention activities have become integrated into the modern retail work routine, making searches like those at issue here part of an employee’s principal activities.

The workers won at the Ninth Circuit, but the court used different reasoning: that the searches are “postliminary” (so the Portal-to-Portal Act applies), but that they are an “integral and indispensable part” of the workers’ principal activities and therefore subject to overtime pay. Integrity (supported by an amicus brief from the Obama Administration) asserts that the searches are “postliminary” to work, are not an “integral and indispensable part” of the employees’ principal activities and, therefore, don’t trigger the overtime requirement.

Part of the company’s argument seems to be a results-based pitch to a corporate-friendly Court: In its certiorari petition urging the Justices to hear its appeal, Integrity Staffing wrote that since the Ninth Circuit ruling, “plaintiffs’ lawyers have brought nationwide class actions against a number of major employers—including Apple, Amazon.com, and CVS—seeking back pay (plus overtime and penalties) for time spent in security screenings.” Notice that it isn’t employees who are suing, but “plaintiffs’ lawyers,” a framing that is red meat for right-wing ideologues. This argument also seems to have less to do with discerning congressional intent and more to do with protecting large corporations.

Mach Mining v. EEOC: Pre-lawsuit settlement efforts by the EEOC

The Supreme Court is to decide if employers can escape liability for illegal discrimination by arguing that the EEOC failed to make a sufficiently good-faith attempt to reach a settlement with the employer.

Mach Mining has never hired a woman for a mining position. A woman who had been turned down several times for a coal mining job filed a sex discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a step that Title VII requires before filing a lawsuit. EEOC looked into the allegation, found it had merit, and – again, as required by Title VII – sought to negotiate an end to the alleged sex discrimination “by informal methods of conference, conciliation, and persuasion” before suing. After several months without success, the EEOC notified the company that it felt further efforts would be futile and initiated a lawsuit. Mach Mining says the case should be dismissed on the grounds that the EEOC didn’t make a good-faith conciliation effort. In response, the EEOC says Title VII doesn’t allow such a defense.

While several other circuits have ruled otherwise, the Seventh Circuit in this case concluded that Title VII cannot be interpreted to allow courts to inquire into the adequacy of the EEOC’s conciliation efforts. For one thing, Title VII has no express provision for an affirmative defense based on a defect in the EEOC’s conciliation’s efforts. It also calls for the EEOC to “endeavor” to end the discrimination through “informal methods of conference, conciliation, and persuasion.” If it can’t reach a result “acceptable to the Commission,” it can sue. The Seventh Circuit interpreted this as giving the EEOC great deference.

The court also noted that Title VII makes the process confidential, with penalties for making the information public without the consent of everyone concerned. That could prevent the EEOC from showing the court the evidence that it had sought to conciliate in good faith. It seems unlikely that Congress wrote Title VII to require the EEOC to defend its conciliation efforts in court but made its ability to do so dependent on the permission of the employer being sued. The court also concluded that there would be no meaningful standard of review. For instance, just how hard should the agency pursue an agreement?

A Supreme Court ruling for the employer could give employers a significant tool to stymie legitimate lawsuits against unlawful employment discrimination. As the Seventh Circuit wrote:

Simply put, the conciliation defense tempts employers to turn what was meant to be an informal negotiation into the subject of endless disputes over whether the EEOC did enough before going to court. Such disputes impose significant costs on both sides, as well as on the court, and to what end?

All the employer should legitimately hope to gain is some unspecified quantum of additional efforts at conciliation by the EEOC. The result of such a defense, as we have said in a closely related context, is to “protract and complicate Title VII litigation, and with little or no offsetting benefit.”


RELIGIOUS LIBERTY

Holt v. Hobbs: Right of a Muslim prisoner to grow a short beard

The Supreme Court is to address whether a state prison’s prohibiting a Muslim prisoner from growing a half-inch beard violates the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.

This case originated with a handwritten request to the Supreme Court from Gregory Holt (aka Abdul Maalik Muhammad), a Muslim prisoner in Arkansas, to hear his case. He states that his religious beliefs require him to have a beard, and he seeks to grow a half-inch beard. The state Department of Corrections prohibits beards generally, but allows quarter-inch beards grown for medical reasons. Muhammad sees his request as a compromise (since his religious beliefs really would have him grow it much longer) that has been accepted in prisons elsewhere.

Since he is in a state prison, Muhammad’s case is governed by a federal law called the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, or RLUIPA. Passed unanimously by Congress in 2000, RLUIPA requires prisons accepting federal funds to give greater religious liberty protections to inmates than is required by the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause. Similar to the better-known Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which was at issue in Hobby Lobby, RLUIPA is triggered when the government imposes a “substantial burden on the religious exercise” of a person confined to an institution. When that happens, the action can be upheld only if the government can demonstrate that the burden: “(1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.”

The state argues that the no-beard policy furthers the compelling government interests in prison safety and security, and that the proposed half-inch accommodation would not be as effective as the no-beard rule in achieving those purposes. For instance, they provide the opinions of penal experts that prisoners could use the beards to hide contraband, and that escaped prisoners could too easily and quickly change their appearance simply by shaving. Muhammad (now represented by counsel) argues that the lower courts, which ruled against him, did not provide the strict scrutiny of the state’s arguments that is required by RLUIPA.

In Hobby Lobby, the Supreme Court significantly rewrote RFRA, watering down the “substantial burden” requirement and applying the religious liberty law to for-profit corporations. Neither factor is relevant to this case, meaning the Court could rule in favor of Muhammad without rewriting the law. But the Roberts Court is known for playing the “long game.” Even if the Court rules unanimously for Muhammad, they may not all agree on the reasoning: The conservatives could write an opinion designed to be cited in future RFRA litigation strengthening the hands of those on the right who would reshape RFRA from a shield against government oppression into a sword.


VOTING RIGHTS

Alabama Democratic Conference v. Alabama / Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama: Racial gerrymandering

The Supreme Court is to address whether Alabama engaged in unconstitutional racial gerrymandering when it drew new state House and Senate district lines that channeled large numbers of African Americans into districts that were already majority-minority.

The GOP-controlled Alabama state legislature enacted a redistricting plan that transferred a significant portion of the black population that had previously been in majority-white districts into districts that were already majority-black. In so doing, the legislature was seeking to achieve certain percentages of black voters in the majority-black districts. At issue is whether legislators engaged in an unconstitutional effort to separate voters by race, or whether they followed traditional redistricting criteria in a way that was necessary to comply with the Voting Rights Act.

Due to population shifts, majority-black districts established after the 2000 Census lost population and had to be redrawn after the 2010 Census to bring in new people. In some cases, the population loss was disproportionately white, meaning that a significantly higher percentage of the remaining population was African American than before. In redrawing the lines while keeping the same number of majority-black districts, the legislature made two decisions that led to what some call “bleaching” – drawing lines so that large numbers of African Americans in majority-white districts would be redistricted into supermajority-black districts, and diminishing African Americans’ political influence in much of the state.

First, they chose to reduce the permissible population difference between districts from 10% (the 2000 standard) to 2%. To achieve district populations that close to each other, many more people would have to be drawn into the modified black-majority districts than would otherwise have been necessary. That huge numbers of those people would be blacks removed from majority-white districts was determined by the second decision: Ostensibly to comply with the requirement under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (this was before Shelby County) that new lines not lead to a retrogression in the position of racial minorities with respect to their effective exercise of the electoral franchise, the African American percentages in the redrawn majority-minority districts should be at least whatever they had become in 2010.

This reapportionment was upheld by a divided three-judge federal district court. The majority concluded that race was not the predominant factor in drawing the redistricting boundaries, so that they need not be analyzed under strict scrutiny as in the 1993 Shaw v. Reno case. The majority also concluded that even if strict scrutiny applied, the legislative boundaries were narrowly tailored to achieve the compelling purpose of compliance with the preclearance provisions of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which applied at the time. The plaintiffs in this case – the Alabama Legislative Black Caucus and state Democrats – challenge those conclusions, arguing that legislators had misinterpreted Section 5, that race was impermissibly the overriding criterion used by legislators in drawing lines, and that the redistricting plan violated the Fourteenth Amendment.


FREE SPEECH AND SIGN REGULATIONS

Reed v. Town of Gilbert, Arizona: Municipal sign regulations

The Supreme Court will hear a church’s Free Speech challenge to city rules regulating the size and placement of various types of signs, which affect the signs it puts up to direct people to its church services.

This case was brought by a small church (25-30 adult members) in Arizona that places signs up to invite people to its weekly services and inform them where they are being held. Good News Church and its pastor Clyde Reed are urging the Court to strike down the town of Gilbert’s sign ordinance, which treats some signs (such as directional signs for events, like a fair or, in this case, a church service) differently from others (like political, real estate, or ideological signs). The different types of signs have different rules on how large they can be, and where and when they can be posted. Good News Church argues the law is an unconstitutional content-based infringement of its First Amendment rights. The lower court had upheld it as content-neutral.

Gilbert regulations generally require a permit before posting a sign, with a number of exceptions that can be posted without a permit. These exceptions (each with specific size, number, and placement rules) include construction signs, open house signs, parking signs, building identification signs, garage sale signs, street address signs, and restaurant menu signs. The church devotes much of its focus to three of the exceptions:

  • Temporary directional signs relating to a qualifying event (like the church’s weekly church service)
    • Size: up to 6 square feet (and up to 6 feet in height)
    • Time: 12 hours before, during, and 1 hour after an event
    • Number: maximum of 4 on a single property
  • Political signs
    • Size: up to 32 square feet
    • Time: any time before election, until 10 days after
    • Number: unlimited
  • Ideological signs
    • Size: up to 20 square feet
    • Time: any time
    • Number: unlimited

The church has signs in the first category to tell people about their weekly church services in the space they rent. The maximum size is smaller than political and ideological signs, fewer can be posted, and they cannot stay up nearly as long. Represented by the far-right Alliance Defending Freedom, Good News Church argues that the city is violating its First Amendment rights by applying different rules to different types of noncommercial signs based on their content. According to the church, any classification based on what a sign says is content-based and therefore subject to the highest level of scrutiny. And if the law’s purpose is, say, to promote traffic safety or aesthetics, then what difference should it make if the sign is for a church service, political candidate, or particular ideology?

A divided panel of the Ninth Amendment disagreed, ruling against the church. It said the distinctions among different types of signs are content-neutral (and thus subject to a somewhat lower level of scrutiny) because Gilbert’s interests in regulating temporary signs are unrelated to the specific content or message of the sign. Each exemption is based on objective criteria related not to the sign’s message, but to the reason for the exemption (such as need for communication about elections, or the need to let event sponsors inform people how to get to the event).


HOLDING FRAUDULENT CORPORATIONS ACCOUNTABLE

Public Employees’ Retirement System of Mississippi v. IndyMac MBS: Timing of lawsuits

The Court is to decide whether the clock stops on a deadline to sue for securities fraud when someone files a class action suit.

This case relates to a key 1974 precedent called American Pipe & Construction Co. v. Utah, where the Supreme Court ruled that the filing of a class action lawsuit stops the clock (“tolls” in legal parlance) on the statute of limitations on filing federal antitrust claims for all potential members of the class, including those who are not actively involved with or even aware of the class action lawsuit. So if a court then doesn’t certify the class for some reason or dismisses its claims, but makes that decision after the statute of limitations has passed, those who would have been included in the class have not lost their opportunity to have their day in court just because they hadn’t made an individual filing in the case.

The current case relates to the financial meltdown of the 2000s and involves federal laws in the Securities Act of 1933 prohibiting sellers of securities from misleading investors. The law has two key time limits: (1) You generally have one year to file a lawsuit, and that can be a year after the untrue or misleading statement is made or discovered. (2) But there is an additional limit, one that restricts just how long after the fact you have to discover the wrongdoing: “In no event shall any such action be brought … more than three years after the security was bona fide offered to the public [or, depending on which section of the law is involved] more than three years after the sale.” The Second Circuit concluded that the American Pipe rule did not apply to this statute.

One of the great benefits of class action litigation is that it protects the rights of people who cannot afford to themselves engage in litigation and may not even realize they have been wronged. It also vastly enhances our society’s ability to hold large corporations responsible when they violate people’s rights. The rule from American Pipe has served that purpose well. But in other contexts, the Roberts Court has significantly undercut the ability of Americans to utilize class actions to protect their rights. If the Court rules that American Pipe doesn’t apply in the securities fraud context, it will be important to see if its reasoning also undercuts American Pipe as a precedent in other contexts.

Omnicare v. Laborers District Council: Holding companies accountable for false statements to investors

The Court is to address what investors need to prove to hold companies accountable for material misstatements in investment material.

When responding to a public offering of company shares, investors may rely on a company’s registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Under Section 11 of the Securities Act of 1933, investors can sue if that statement “contained an untrue statement of a material fact or omitted to state a material fact [that was] necessary to make the statements therein not misleading.” This case asks what investors need to prove if the purportedly “untrue statement” was the company’s opinion that it wasn’t breaking the law.

Omnicare is the nation’s largest provider of pharmaceutical care for the elderly and other residents of long-term care facilities. In Omnicare’s registration statement, it said that “we believe” that its financial relationships with pharmaceutical manufacturers were legal. The investors here claim that some of those deals constituted unlawful kickbacks. The question is whether that allegation is enough to trigger Section 11.

According to Omnicare, for the investors to have a claim under Section 11, they have to allege that Omnicare didn’t believe the statement when it was made. Otherwise, companies could be held liable for statements of opinion that turn out later not to be true. Two circuit courts have taken that view.

But in this case, the Sixth Circuit took a different approach, one that makes it easier for investors to file a Section 11 claim. That court reasoned that Section 11 is a “strict liability” statute where the state of mind of company officials isn’t relevant, so it’s sufficient to allege that the opinion was false, regardless of whether the company knew at the time it was false. That’s the ruling the investors in this case are asking the Supreme Court to uphold.

In an amicus brief, the Obama Administration takes a middle ground, in which the company isn’t held liable only because it expressed an opinion that turned out not to be true. The Administration argues that a statement of opinion is actionable under Section 11 if: (1) the company didn’t believe it at the time (which both parties in this case agree on), or (2) there was no reasonable basis for the opinion at the time, even if it was sincerely held (which Omnicare disagrees with).

Any ruling by the Roberts Court should keep in mind that Congress enacted Section 11 to encourage maximum disclosure by companies making a public offering. After all, people associated with the company know far more about the business than potential investors could ever know, and Section 11 was intended to dissuade corporations from tricking investors.


CONCLUSION

Just as the Lochner case defined the Supreme Court a century ago as it turned conservative economic policies into constitutional dogma, America finds itself living through the Citizens United era, where the Court again routinely rules in favor of corporate and other powerful interests. By the end of June, we will know if the current term will have been as damaging to Americans’ fundamental rights as recent terms have been.

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The Right Enemies: A Look Back At Right-Wing Attacks On Eric Holder

Attorney General Eric Holder, who today announced his plans to resign, has been a leader in addressing systems of racial discrimination and protecting the fundamental rights of every American to be treated equally under the law and participate in our democracy.

Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that the Right loves to hate him.

In February of this year, the American Family Association demanded Holder’s impeachment after he had the audacity to treat married same-sex couples like married opposite-sex couples with regard to a host of legal rights and recognitions. Shortly after, both Faith and Freedom Coalition head Ralph Reed and Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp echoed the call for Holder’s impeachment because of his support for marriage equality. Televangelist Pat Robertson also joined the impeachment parade, alleging that under Holder, “sodomy” was being “elevated above the rights of religious believers.”

Holder’s commitment to redressing racial injustice was no more warmly received by the Right than his work in support of LGBT equality. After Holder spoke out against voter ID laws, which disproportionately harm people of color, Texas Gov. Rick Perry accused him of “purposefully” “incit[ing] racial tension.” Gun Owners of America director Larry Pratt argued that Holder’s open discussion of racial discrimination in the criminal justice system means that he is the real “racist,” asserting last year that Holder wants to “intimidate the rest of the country so that we don’t think about defending ourselves” against “attacks by black mobs on white individuals.” Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association went so far as to say that Holder would never “prosecute someone if the victim is white.” And after Holder visited Ferguson, Missouri last month, David Horowitz outrageously commented that the attorney general was leading a black “lynch mob.”

And those are just a handful of the attacks the Right has leveled against Holder for his work protecting equality under the law.

The fact that the far Right has reacted with so much vitriol to the attorney general’s leadership is a sign not only of how uninterested they are in the civil rights that the Justice Department is meant to protect, but also of how effective Holder’s work has been. The next attorney general should share Holder’s deep commitment to protecting the rights of all Americans – and, by extension, make all the “right” enemies among those hoping to turn back the clock on civil liberties.

This post originally appeared on the PFAW blog.

Scott Lively Doesn't Hate Gays, Just Wants Them To 'Enjoy The Blessings Of Being Able To Live A Heterosexual Life'

In an interview with the American Family Association’s Sandy Rios this morning, globe-trotting anti-gay activist Scott Lively insisted that he doesn’t hate LGBT people or “want them to be harmed in any way” or “put in jail.”

Instead, he said, “I want them to receive salvation in Jesus Christ, repent of their sins, and be able to enjoy the blessings of being able to live a heterosexual life and have a wife or a husband — depending on what their gender is — and the great blessings that come from doing things the God designed us to live. “

Earlier in the interview, Lively repeated his contention that a Human Rights Campaign report detailing his work pushing anti-gay laws throughout the world was “ trying to incite murder against me.”

“It’s a hit list, and a hit list file, it’s like the 10 Most Wanted list,” he told Rios.

“This is nothing less than directions to the next Floyd Lee Corkins on who to assassinate and where to find them and inflammatory rhetoric to get them all wound up in order to feel motivated to be able to do it,” he said, referring to the mentally disturbed man who attempted a shooting at the Family Research Council. “It’s a hit list for assassination.”

“Every leftist organization in America knows they have people that follow their rhetoric who are willing to commit murder,” he added.

When Rios responded that she herself had had “vile” things said about her, Lively responded, “It’s demonic, it’s literally demonic. What you’re seeing is demonic expression through human agents that have given themselves over to the Devil.”

Children Raised By Gay Couples Become Orphans, Says Prominent French Anti-Gay Activist

This past weekend, National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown was scheduled to stop in France on his way back from Moscow to train activists with the French anti-gay group Manif Pour Tous. Manif Pour Tous is the most prominent organization working against LGBT rights in France, and has strong ties with American groups, as evidenced by its president Ludovine de la Rochere’s appearance at this year’s March for Marriage in Washington, D.C.

So what was the Manif Pour Tous event that Brown participated in like? A reporter from the French publication Le Nouvel Observateur went to the group’s “summer university,” where she was barred from individual workshops like Brown’s, but did sit in on the general sessions, where she captured the following astounding quote from de la Rochere:

Depuis l’adoption de la loi du mariage pour tous, il y a eu 721 requêtes d’adoption par des couples homosexuels. Donc il va y avoir 721 enfants orphelins de plus, au nom de la loi!

Which translates roughly to:

Since the adoption of the law of marriage for all, there were 721 requests for adoption by homosexual couples. So there will be 721 more orphaned children, in the name of the law!

Yes, according to de la Rochere, children raised by same-sex couples end up as orphans.

This kind of rhetoric is similar to what Brown has been pushing in his travels, warning Russian lawmakers last year that adoption by same-sex couples deprives children of their “right to have normal parents: a father and a mother.”

Jody Hice, GOP House Candidate, Claims Gay People Have 'No Rights That Are Missing'

Georgia pastor and activist Jody Hice, who is now the GOP nominee to fill Rep. Paul Broun’s U.S. House seat, explained on an episode of his radio program posted today that LGBT people aren’t asking for equal rights because “gay people have the same rights as everybody else.”

“Let’s just suppose a gay person comes up to you and says something like, ‘Why shouldn’t I have the same rights as everybody else? Why can I not marry the person I love?’” Hice said.

“Well what rights are we talking about?” he asked, before implying that gay people can simply marry someone of the opposite sex: “Gay people have the same rights as everybody else. There are no rights that are missing. They have the same rights as anyone. We are Americans and we all have the same rights.”

“People have been loving one another as companions and so forth for a long, long time and they have been giving care to one another for a long, long time without calling every instance of love and mutual care, without calling that marriage. But now all of a sudden we have the demand to fundamentally redefine the world marriage,” he continued.

Later in the program he likened same-sex marriage bans to prohibitions against bigamy and incest, saying that when it comes to marriage, “homosexuals, gay people, have exactly the same right as heterosexuals have.”

“Homosexuals have the right to be married but what they are demanding, in reality, is that marriage be redefined to suit them,” he said.

“We already have marriage laws that prevent people from marrying the person they love,” he said, citing people who want to marry their siblings.

Vic Eliason And Mat Staver Link ISIS Beheadings To LGBT 'Meltdown Of Morality'

On yesterday’s edition of “Crosstalk,” Voice of Christian Youth America’s Vic Eliason and Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver connected same-sex marriage in the U.S. to beheadings committed by the terrorist group ISIS.

Discussing recent marriage equality legal victories, Staver made his standard prediction that the legalization of same-sex marriage will pave the way for polygamy. Eliason responded by accusing gay rights advocates of destroying morality and biblical values, leading to a decadent, anything-goes society.

“People see something they want, they steal it or they kill somebody or behead them. Some of this stuff now that’s going on, the beheading, which has become literally a religious, I don’t know what you’d call it— it becomes a very sacred thing to the Islamics to behead somebody because that is a special right that is deserved by the infidels,” Eliason said.

Staver naturally agreed and said it was all President Obama’s fault: “Yeah, that’s exactly right. I think what we’re seeing today is a meltdown of morality. That’s what certainly President Obama has been pushing, he is very much pushing a disintegration of Judeo-Christian values not just here in the United States but he’s actively doing that around the country [sic] promoting abortion and same-sex marriage, he’s trying to do that in every way possible across the world.”

Todd Starnes: Gay Rights Will Lead To Man-Dog Marriage

In an interview last month on the Daystar program “Joni,” Fox News commentator Todd Starnes agreed with the suggestion that marriage equality will legalize man-dog marriage.

Discussing the case of a Colorado bakery that denied service to a same-sex couple (and which ironically baked a cake for a “dog wedding”), Starnes agreed with cohost Rachel Lamb’s assertion that man-dog marriage is on its way, saying, “when you redefine marriage, that means anything goes.”

Starnes also said gay rights will lead to the imprisonment of pastors and restrictions on the freedom of speech, adding that Christians in America are being “persecuted” and “beat up” just like Chinese Christians.

BarbWire Columnist: 'Tyrannical Homosexual Movement' Will 'Obliterate Freedom'

In a rambling response today to a recent pro-marriage equality op-ed by a gay Republican political adviser, BarbWire’s Gina Miller warns that gay marriage is “based on a grotesquely immoral, unnatural and unhealthy behavior” and will lead to the End Times.

“[T]he tyrannical homosexual movement,” Miller warns, “is leaving in its wake a scorched earth of obliterated freedoms, degenerate minds and cultural rot.” She adds that “there can never be a marriage union between two men or two women, no matter what our insane society declares or how many devilish laws mandate an abominable parody of marriage.”

“This is about the normalization of homosexuality and the crushing of Christianity and the freedoms of Christians and others opposed to the mainstreaming of this perverse behavior,” she writes. “This is a war by the degenerate Left against truth, reason, and morality. Ultimately, they are at war against God.”

The Bible warns us that in these last days, there will come a time when men will no longer accept the truth. As written in 2 Timothy 4:3-4:

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

While this may be a reference to apostasy within the church, the nation reflects the health—or lack of it—of the church, and our nation is quite sick. This is evident in the gruesome success of the tyrannical homosexual movement that is leaving in its wake a scorched earth of obliterated freedoms, degenerate minds and cultural rot.



“Marriage bias? ” As I have said many times, marriage is one thing only, the union of a man and a woman. That’s all it has ever been and all it will ever be, no matter how many lawless federal judges illegally write bad law from the bench in overturning the will of the people of the sovereign states who have voted to codify the meaning of marriage in their state constitutions. There is no such thing as “marriage bias,” unless you consider accepting the definition of marriage to be “biased” for truth. There can never be a marriage union between two men or two women, no matter what our insane society declares or how many devilish laws mandate an abominable parody of marriage.



No longer will many people accept the fact that, although there are plenty of practical reasons to oppose it, the entire foundation of the same-sex “marriage” argument is dead wrong. It is based on a grotesquely immoral, unnatural and unhealthy behavior—pure sin, whether anyone on God’s earth believes it or not. So, Richardson’s arguments are empty from the start. There is no “conservative case” for homosexuality or counterfeit marriage. By its very definition, conservatism seeks to conserve our nation’s heritage and moral framework, which includes marriage and family. There is already “freedom to marry” for every person, providing it is marriage in which you choose to engage. A man wanting to “marry” another man is nothing but a twisted farce, never a marriage.



The subtlety of his “aww shucks, my boyfriend and I are just like everyone else” pitch is part of the sinister propaganda of the radical homosexual Left. He’s not just like everyone else, wanting to be left alone to mind his own business. He’s an outspoken homosexual activist, and his bogus, “aww shucks” angle hides the truth about the danger to our freedoms and our society that the imposition of same-sex “marriage” represents. One of the biggest dangers is to our freedom, because the state would force, under penalty of law, the acceptance and the accommodation of counterfeit marriage on all who know it’s wrong. It would also force the indoctrination of school kids with the lies of the homosexual movement, telling them that it’s normal and good, when it’s anything but. These things are already happening, although not on a uniformly national scale.

Richardson finishes his piece with the common refrain of the homosexual “marriage” movement that all they want is the same right to marry as everyone else. That’s a lie. They already have that same right, and there is no such thing as same-sex marriage, but that’s not what this is about. This is about the normalization of homosexuality and the crushing of Christianity and the freedoms of Christians and others opposed to the mainstreaming of this perverse behavior. The fictional “rights” based on homosexual deviance and the genuine, God-given, First Amendment-protected rights of the vast majority of Americans cannot coexist. In this war for the soul of our nation, one must give way to the other. This is a war by the degenerate Left against truth, reason, and morality. Ultimately, they are at war against God, and while they may seem to be victorious here in the short term, in the end it is God Who is the Victor.

7th Circuit Says Arguments Against Marriage Equality "Cannot Be Taken Seriously"

Reagan judge Richard Posner concludes that the argument against marriage equality "is so full of holes that it cannot be taken seriously."
PFAW Foundation

Steve Scalise Hails Louisiana Anti-Marriage Equality Ruling

Rep. Steve Scalise praised a federal judge for upholding his home state of Louisiana’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, telling the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins yesterday that the ruling “was an important win for marriage today.”

“I was the lead author of the bill that put a constitutional amendment on the ballot back in 2004,” the House GOP whip said on the FRC’s “Washington Watch.”

Perkins agreed: “A big win for Louisiana but also a big win for the nation in that it has, I think, slowed down this train of activist decisions.”

Mike Johnson of the Religious Right group Freedom Guard, who Scalise called “a great warrior on our behalf,” later told Perkins that anti-gay activists are “standing on the right side of millennia of history” and that no one in their right mind could disagree with the judge’s ruling: “His opinion was so well-written and well-reasoned that no person can objectively read this and disagree.”

Johnson defended the state’s marriage ban in court as the state attorney general’s special counsel.

Louisiana's Marriage Ban Is Upheld By Judge Citing "Lifestyle Choices"

A judge nominated by Ronald Reagan in 1983 writes an opinion that is a throwback to that earlier and less equal time.
PFAW Foundation

Barber: Marriage Equality Took A 'Sledgehammer' To Society, Will Send It 'Tumbling Down'

Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber is on high alert after a federal judge issued a final ruling striking down Utah’s ban on polygamous relationships, and joined Janet Mefferd yesterday to discuss the ruling, which he said was just the latest sign that support for same-sex marriage took a “sledgehammer” to our society and will send it all “tumbling down.”

Barber lamented that Americans are too busy to do the careful analysis that would lead them to agree with him and instead are buying into the gay rights movement’s “propaganda.”

“Unfortunately, much of America right now is — you know, we’re all busy, people don’t have time to actually engage the process of analysis on these things and look that A leads to B that leads to C, and take it all the way down to Z, which is disastrous — they don’t have time for that, and people buy into the propaganda,” he said.

“I just hope that people will recognize that when we deviate and try to redefine something that cannot be redefined — particularly when that thing, we’re talking about marriage here, is a fundamental cornerstone of any society — if we take a sledgehammer to that cornerstone, the results are disastrous and everything comes tumbling down.”

Linda Harvey Attacks Target For 'Pushing Deviance And Perversion Into Everyone's Lives'

On her “Mission America” radio program yesterday, Linda Harvey weighed in on the National Organization for Marriage’s boycott of Target in response to the company’s filing of a court brief in support of marriage equality.

Harvey echoed NOM in taking particular issue with Target’s characterization of same-sex marriage bans as “bans” and “discrimination.”

“Have you noticed how this is how headlines often read these days?” Harvey said. “They talk about laws on natural marriage as being ‘bans’ on same-sex so-called marriage. And that’s incorrect because people who are male can still marry people who are female. The only obstacle for a few people is the presence of unnatural desires. Those desires can change with a different mind and heart.”

Later in the broadcast, Harvey read from a response she received from Target, in which the company expressed support for the “LGBT community.”

“So where’s the inclusivity for traditional values families? Target also thinks there’s an LGBT community, but what about a Christian morals community? Do they get the fact that most people have had it up to here with pushing deviance and perversion into everyone’s lives in America? That most Americans don’t accept the idea of two men or two women being married when they are obviously not?”

Joseph Farah: Being Against Same-Sex Marriage Is A Sexual Orientation

In a WorldNetDaily column today, Joseph Farah came up with a creative argument for exempting businesses that deny services to gay couples from nondiscrimination laws. Opposing same-sex marriage, Farah argues, is itself a “sexual orientation” and therefore a law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation is actually discriminatory against the sexual orientation of marriage equality opponents.

Let me pose a hypothetical intellectual challenge: The law that forms the basis for the action against the Giffords in New York is a provision that bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Yet, isn’t that precisely what is happening to the Giffords? Are they not being coerced to accept and approve someone else’s sexual orientation? Are they not permitted to hold their own sexual orientation, one that acknowledges their God’s definition that marriage is a union of one man and one woman?

The Giffords are not campaigning to prevent other people from following their own conscience as to their sexual choices and activities. It’s just the opposite. They are being coerced by the state to take part in the sexual choices and activities of others.

Isn’t that obvious?

Farah finishes things up on more familiar ground, attempting to tie together the gay rights movement and Islamic radicals.

When “non-discrimination” becomes victimization of those with different religious and moral convictions, we literally have the establishment of a state religion and, effectively, the repeal of the First Amendment.

Who wants that?

It’s not Christians.

It’s not Jews.

Just look around and see for yourself.

Some people are trying to get the state to force those with different values, morals and religious idea to serve them in ways that violate their consciences.

I only see that kind of coercion demanded among two groups of people today – those who believe in the unlimited power of the state as their “god” and others who believe their god wants them to kill or subjugate all “infidels.”

FRC's Craig James Stumped By Question Likening Gay Marriage Bans To Anti-Miscegenation Laws

Craig James — the former Fox Sports host who now works at the Family Research Council — hosted “Washington Watch” yesterday, where he attacked the federal judge who struck down Florida’s same-sex marriage ban for “overriding and striking down the will of the people.”

James’ statements prompted a caller to ask him if he believes a judge should then similarly uphold a ban on interracial marriage if it was supported by the state’s voters. James responded that the courts in that case should overrule the people because judges should decide cases based on the Bible and “the Bible doesn’t speak against that.”

Of course, a startling number of voters — including half of Mississippi Republicans — believe that interracial marriage should be illegal, and that was the view held by a majority of Americans only a few decades ago.

“Among religious groups, evangelicals remain the most opposed to interracial marriage,” Christianity Today notes, and leading Religious Right pastors like the late Bob Jones believed that the Bible unambiguously opposes miscegenation and desegregation and pastors who support integration have “gotten away from the Bible.” “The Bible is clear on this,” Jones said.

Later in the show, another caller said that while bans on interracial marriage are wrong, they are constitutional nonetheless: “If the people voted for it and it became the law, then we would have to abide by it…. If the people voted against interracial marriage and it became the law, then we would have to live by that. ”

James didn’t disagree: “You know, unfortunately, I’m 53 years old and the country is changing and the rule of law is something that now is kind of, use it when it is good to you and don’t in other times. We are definitely in a changing mentality in this country.”

FRC: 'People Need To Be Alarmed' About 'Very Dangerous' Gay Marriage

On yesterday’s edition of “Washington Watch,” the Family Research Council’s Craig James and Travis Weber discussed a federal judge’s decision to strike down Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage, warning that the decision will have dangerous and unforeseen consequences.

After James denounced the judge for “overriding and striking down the will of the people,” Weber lamented that the judge’s “inability to comprehend any moral components or any moral insight into marriage” is “very dangerous” as it could pave the way for Big Government tyranny.

“People need to be alarmed,” Weber continued. “We kind of need to step back from this issue — the issue of marriage. Mention it and people get all uptight and they come at it with their preconceived opinions.”

“If we just kind of step back and take a quick history lesson, we can look throughout history at many governments that viewed moral authority as simply ending with the state and there is nothing above that, there is no insight into law beyond what the state itself said it was. Do we want that? No, all we need to do is look at the horror which that view has wrought upon humanity.”

The Victims of the Religious Right

This post was originally published at the Huffington Post. 

Yesterday's marriage equality ruling from a federal district court in Florida, like so many before it, strikes down laws preventing same-sex couples from marrying. And like all the ones before it, this ruling isn't a theoretical treatise on the law, but a legal opinion affecting real people.

All of the people suing to vindicate the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution have a story to tell. All of them are important. The judge briefly describes them, such as this lesbian couple:

Arlene Goldberg married Carol Goldwasser in New York in 2011. Ms. Goldwasser died in March 2014. The couple had been together for 47 years. Ms. Goldwasser was the toll-facilities director for Lee County, Florida, for 17 years. Ms. Goldberg is retired but works part time at a major retailer. The couple had been living with and taking care of Ms. Goldwasser's elderly parents, but now Ms. Goldberg cares for them alone. Social-security benefits are Ms. Goldberg's primary income. Florida's refusal to recognize the marriage has precluded Ms. Goldberg from obtaining social-security survivor benefits. Ms. Goldberg says that for that reason only, she will have to sell her house, and Ms. Goldwasser's parents are looking for another place to live.

Think about it: If the grieving Arlene Goldberg loses her house just because she couldn't get married, that is what victory for the Religious Right looks like.

Recall that the Religious Right has not only spent the past thirty or forty years fighting to prevent gays and lesbians from marrying. They have also fought tooth and nail against every advance in civil rights that has come during that time, affecting employment discrimination, child custody, healthcare decisionmaking ... you name it. Victory for them has meant forcibly separating parents from their children, firing gay teachers, making grieving mourners lose their homes, and much, much more.

Fortunately, most Americans don't side with the Religious Right. More and more Americans are recognizing that whatever negative assumptions they may have once had about lesbians and gays were simply not true. And they're realizing that discriminatory policies cause real harm to real people and should be changed. Most Americans don't like the idea of gratuitously hurting completely innocent people.

As for the Religious Right, hurting innocent people isn't just an infrequent or accidental byproduct of the movement's policies. They have been dedicated for decades to denying LGBT people as many legal rights as possible. The harms caused by the absence of those rights is what victory looks like for them.

PFAW Foundation

BREAKING: Florida Marriage Ban Struck Down

Finally, some good news: today a federal judge in Florida struck down the state’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples.

U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle, nominated by President Clinton in the 1990s, ruled the 2008 ban unconstitutional on equal protection and due process grounds and predicted that future generations will look back with shock at the views of those who supported the ban:

'When observers look back 50 years from now, the arguments supporting Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage, though just as sincerely held, will again seem an obvious pretext for discrimination,' Hinkle wrote. 'Observers who are not now of age will wonder just how those views could have been held.'

While the decision has been stayed — meaning that couples cannot immediately begin getting married — it is a significant step forward for equality. Congratulations, Florida!

PFAW Foundation

Scott Lively Takes On 'Dangerous Heresy' Of Gay-Affirming Christians

Something that might bug Religious Right leaders even more than the expansion of marriage equality in the U.S. is the increasing acceptance of homosexuality and LGBT equality among Christians.

The latest salvo against Christians who challenge anti-gay interpretations of scripture comes from Scott Lively. Lively originally gained notoriety for his book "The Pink Swastika," which blamed homosexuals for the rise of Nazi Germany, but may now be more well known for his travels fanning anti-gay sentiment and encouraging the passage of anti-gay legislation in Uganda and around the globe. Earlier this month Lively lectured prominent Christian singer Vicky Beeching, who recently came out as a lesbian, for having “given in to the lie that she is a homosexual.” Lively asserted, “There’s no such thing as a gay person.”

His latest project is a brochure that is meant to take on gay-affirming Christians — even Christians who decry the Religious Right’s obsession with homosexuality but agree that it is a sin. Lively is promoting the brochure on Matt Barber’s wildly anti-gay BarbWire as “An Open Letter to Christian Leaders in America.”

The brochure includes 18 short interpretations of Bible passages that Lively says make his point that homosexuality is not just another sin, but “the harbinger of God’s wrath.”

In his “open letter” he portrays the LGBT equality movement as pursuing a long-term “blueprint for supplanting Biblical morality with sexual anarchy — in essence, the overthrow of family-centered Christian civilization.” The only remaining barrier to gay “cultural hegemony” is the Christian Church, which is why gay rights activists are trying to destroy it from within. Lively’s brochure warns:

A dangerous modern heresy called “gay theology” is infiltrating the Christian church at an alarming pace. Many believers, fearful of being called “haters,” are trivializing the threat by calling homosexuality “just another sin.”

Lively uses his open letter to promote himself as a speaker, spokesman, and workshop leader. But, he insists, “This is not a marketing campaign.”

We are not offering the brochure for sale. We simply want your help to quickly disseminate the brochure to every Christian leader in America. We will provide as many copies of this brochure as you can use at our cost of $.07 per piece plus shipping and whatever donation you feel led to offer. Alternatively, if you provide us an up-to-date list of pastors or other leaders we will send it to them ourselves (but please provide help with postage). Or if you desire to print your own supply, we will send you the artwork. If for any reason you dislike the brochure, we exhort you to take action in your own way to spread the warning and rally believers against this dangerous modern heresy called “gay theology.”

Lively’s brochure is produced by Defend the Family International, an arm of his Abiding Truth Ministries.

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